Fixing climate change? Some new arguments and findings

13 Jun 2024



The text argues that developed countries alone cannot avert a climate disaster. The primary drivers of emissions are now in developing countries, where economic growth relies on carbon-intensive technologies. Rich nations should focus on scientific interventions to mitigate climate change, leveraging their technological and economic strengths to address the global crisis effectively.

Quico Toro challenges the common assertion that efforts by developed countries alone can avert a climate disaster. He argues that the idea of a collective "we" who needs to act is misleading. Historically, the responsibility for reducing emissions has been placed on advanced democracies and their institutions. However, this perspective needs to be updated.
Today, the primary drivers of rising global emissions are the billions of people in developing countries striving for middle-class lifestyles. This pursuit is inherently carbon-intensive, as it relies on the cheapest and most accessible technologies, which tend to be fossil fuel-based. Compared to rich nations, developing countries need more economic and technological means to adopt low-carbon solutions readily.

New findings indicate a significant shift in emission sources. In 1970, 69% of greenhouse gas emissions came from rich countries. This figure has dropped to 33%, with the majority now originating from developing nations. The International Energy Agency projects that 85% of the growth in demand for electric power over the next three years will come from developing countries, underscoring the global impact of this shift.

Quico Toro argues that the most critical climate decisions are now being made in countries like Indonesia, Brazil, India, and China. These decisions are driven by local pressures and priorities, over which developed nations have little influence. This shift reveals a taboo in climate discourse: the diminishing agency of the West in controlling global emissions trajectories.

To address this, Quico Toro suggests a shift in focus for rich countries. Instead of reducing their emissions, they should leverage their scientific and technological capabilities to explore climate interventions. These interventions, such as increasing the earth's albedo, fertilizing ocean phytoplankton to enhance CO2 absorption, and adding aerosols to the atmosphere to dim the sun slightly, can significantly impact the climate crisis.

Supporting scientific research into these interventions could provide tangible ways to mitigate climate change. This approach recognizes the new global emissions dynamics and seeks to utilize the strengths of developed nations to address the climate crisis effectively.
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